The Sage, Gateshead - Bespoke Moving Structures

The dramatic curving roof of The Sage, Gateshead, hints at the three theatres nestled within, each with its own unique design and acoustically isolated from the others.

Within each theatre auditorium, advanced acoustic engineering has been undertaken to deliver a state-of-the-art venue that caters for a wide variety of musical performances from opera to rock. The result is a venue that has gained worldwide recognition and renown for its powerful and engaging performances.

The Challenge

Within the theatres, different acoustic characteristics are favoured by different musical styles. Opera singers and orchestras rely on the auditorium's shape to amplify and evenly disperse their performance. However, this would prove uncomfortable for the audience during a performance using powered amplification.

The Sage needed a way to adjust the acoustic characteristics of each auditorium, transforming the physical space itself to suit the requirements of differing musical styles.

The Solution

The answer to The Sage's acoustic challenge was found in the use of moving roof panels, stage curtains and lighting equipment that transform the actual physical shape of the auditorium.

SCX Special Projects provided The Sage with a mechanical engineering package for all the theatre’s lifting equipment, lighting bars and stage risers, and mobilised the acoustic panels and curtains to create a transforming space to match the theatre's range of performances.

Raising the roof

  • In Hall One, winching systems position each of six 14-tonne acoustic ceiling panels at precise heights between 10m and 21m to achieve the required acoustic effects
  • Six lighting bars, installed between the panels can be lowered to stall level for the rigging and alteration of lights
  • Three more hoists lower speakers down through trapdoors in the acoustic panels


Sound engineering

  • In Hall Two, sound absorbing acoustic banners lower from the ceiling down to stalls level and into the space behind the balconies
  • Hand-powered winches are used to lower lighting and speaker bars
  • Acoustic drapes in Hall One can be remotely deployed by the conductor to cover up to 90% of the wall area, or retracted fully into storage pockets


Setting the stage

  • Eighteen chain hoists handle additional set equipment including curtains and projection screens
  • Four high speed hoists, controlled from the stage flying console, are used to change backdrops during performances
  • The stage is motorised to create a raked layout for theatre, various stepped arrangements for orchestras, and a completely flat floor when fully retracted


Let's talk more about bespoke handling systems for moving structures

SCX has led the way in moving structures, bringing a new world of kinetic spaces that realise the architect's vision. No longer do buildings have to be rigid and static. Talk to us today.

Call us on +44 114 262 6199, email us at, or complete the contact form below and we'll be in touch.

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SCX Special Projects Ltd

Roman Ridge Road, Sheffield, S9 1GA, United Kingdom

t:  +44 (0)114 262 6199